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Report: Guided Pathways are Working in Tennessee’s Community Colleges

Early indicators about the comprehensive guided pathways model implemented by the 13 community colleges in the Tennessee Board of Regents system show that it is helping the state’s students earn more credits, pass key courses and move towards graduation, according to a new report from the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College.

In the report “Building Guided Pathways to Community College Student Success: Promising Practices and Early Evidence from Tennessee,” CCRC researchers noted that Tennessee’s community colleges are the furthest along any state system in employing their so-called “Tennessee completion practices.” Attuned to various contexts at the 13 college campuses, the guided-pathway practices give students a tailored and streamlined approach to entering, navigating and completing degree programs in alignment with their education and career goals.

The report findings include:

-From 2010 to 2016, Tennessee community colleges doubled rates at which students hit key credit accumulation benchmarks and almost tripled rates for completing college math and English. The Tennessee Promise requirement that students take 12 credits a semester likely explained some of the increases, but not all.

-Racial gaps in the completion of college-level English in students’ first year narrowed between Black students (55 percent) and White Students (65 percent) and were nearly eliminated between White students and Hispanic students (64 percent) in 2016.

-The percentage of students in college for the first time who completed college-level math and English in the first year went from 15 percent in 2010 to 40 percent in 2016.

-Sixty-three percent of first-time students completed English in their first year in 2016, compared to 43 percent in 2010; 45 percent completed math in their first year compared to 18 percent in 2010.

CCRC’s report also examined how each of the colleges fared in implementing completion practices on mapping pathways to student end goals, helping students choose and enter a program pathway, keeping students on path and ensuring that students are learning.

The next steps for improving community college completion in Tennessee include supporting returning adult learners and helping students explore career and college opportunities while still in high school, researchers said. Read the full report here.

Tiffany Pennamon can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter @tiffanypennamon.

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